Goats, Hijabs, and the Quest for Brakes

Back in March I wrote about my sexual assault and  my subsequent suicide attempt. I posted it on facebook, and then immediately took it down. I am a chicken in that way, I suppose.

However, I think even more than being afraid to tell my story and what happened, I have been presented an opportunity in the pause button. You see, I ran away from my experience, which I already established vis-a-vis my earlier post. The new thought is that I ran away from being vulnerable, being open about who I am, what happened, etc. (i.e. removing my post from facebook).

I started thinking about this idea of running away, and I realized a lot of how I think about my life and my problems is deeply rooted in this need to escape.

For example, during college, after the suicide attempt, I was lost and hollow, uncertain of where to go after college, what direction. I was job searching, and panicking that I made the wrong decision about not immediately pursuing grad school. I would get so panicked, one day I sort of woke up and found myself looking at google flights and in the process of booking a ticket to Washington State. I had gotten caught up in getting an internship on a goat farm outside of Seattle where I would have gotten $50 a week for some back breaking labor all for the sake of ‘experience’. What the actual hell?!? I literally was so into this idea (this fantasy) that I had been in contact with the lady who owned the goat farm, and had secured the internship. But before the whole goat farm scenario, I was going to join the Peace Corps and move to Ghana. I had a second interview with the Peace Corps before I slammed the brakes. I can go on and on and on with the examples.

I was looking in the mirror and I saw a face full of denial, because I honestly hadn’t even rationalized what I was doing.

Unfortunately, even after college, the suicide attempt, moving back home, getting my dream job and feeling more accomplished and everything, I still find myself falling into that same headspace.

Just a few months ago I found myself extremely upset at work, I was having a series of tough days that turned into a series of tough weeks, and I did the same thing. I found myself looking at plane tickets for Marrakech, rationalizing that I could find a job and just move away, cut ties with everyone, just sort of melt from existence. I looked into how to get citizenship in Italy, Ireland, and France.  I thought a lot about going to sleep and just hibernating.

Moral of the story is, I run away in my brain. A lot.

If you have ever met me, you will know that I am a big fan of books, movies, and TV shows. I get incredibly emotionally involved in them all, and at times they sort of consume me.

When reflecting on my behavior, it becomes sort of evident that I run away into those too. I watch things that bring me comfort, that I love, and I escape into. At the real height of my depression, I sometimes would not leave my bed and just stay and watch things all day. The same thing sometimes, repeatedly. After it would be over, I would still find myself playing out the stories in my head.

I have a repetitive problem with running away.

To come back to my suicide attempt- I am hesitant to call it that anymore. Don’t get me wrong, call an ace a spade; I took a whole bottle of Tylenol PM, drank a whole bottle of wine, and chugged half a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. Clearly I was not exactly embracing living. But I don’t think that night was entirely grounded in the explicit notion of wanting to kill myself.

I think more than anything, I wanted to just not exist anymore, I wanted to run away from life. Of course, running away from life is kind of difficult unless you cease to exist, hence the aforementioned attempt to slide out of this universe.

In my heart of hearts, I think I have to be honest and admit I have a problem with running away and escapism.

And that is something that is scary because I haven’t really dealt with that. But, I am cautiously excited that I figured that out for myself, because as a healing, evolving, ever changing person, self-reflection and inner character growth are essential for living life on this earth to the fullest, and I definitely want to try to live as my most genuine self.

It is super hard, but I am going to keep struggling to it, being grateful that when I find myself shopping for hijab’s in order to move to the Maldives I am able to distinguish between what is ‘wanderlust’ and what is ‘I-want-to-run-the-hell-away” and stop myself before committing to something stupid. And I definitely have to give myself a high five for that.

 

 

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Character Change: A Perspective

I haven’t attended this blog, like at all. My last post was from nearly a year ago, and that was a poem I wrote and posted literally about me whining. A year ago is not so long ago when I think about it, but I also feel like a completely different person from then. Last year was my year from hell: a burning heap of garbage that changed me in a lot of ways, but didn’t necessarily change my life.

Tomorrow is National Denim Day, a day to honor those women in Italy who were brutally assaulted and given no justice due to the court citing that their jeans were too tight for an attacker to take off forcibly, therefore implying that the women gave consent by removing their jeans themselves or helping their attackers to remove them. (If my eyes could roll any further back…) Lots of people (hopefully) will be wearing denim in a show of solidarity tomorrow, stating that we remember that injustice and will not forget. (In case you want more info, here is a link to an article posted by the US Army that is very informative)

I have debated on whether or not to post this, as I don’t really post a lot about my (many) personal struggles. I especially don’t write about (“air out”) my dirty laundry on a platform that is connected to people from my past, my present, and maybe even my future(Facebook is weird like that), because like my father, I don’t necessarily like people being in my business; like, my grandmother’s neighbor’s dog doesn’t necessarily need to know about my anxiety. However, I know that various people have written things throughout the last few years about their own struggles, and I got a lot from reading their posts. Mostly it was comfort, seeing something that someone I (vaguely) know go through and handle that is similar to experiences in my own life, it gave me courage. People I didn’t really think about or know all that well let me read a very intimate account of their life and I felt more secure knowing that someone was going through something and seemed to be coming out of it okay. It helped a lot. So I have decided that maybe it is time to talk about my trash year and how everything has changed from then in the chance that someone needs to read this.

Last year I was sexually assaulted. It was not rape. A boogeyman did not knock me out cold and force himself on me. I was violated- I was touched inappropriately in a public setting without warning and without giving consent. It wasn’t violent, it was shocking. For the good majority of last year, I convinced myself it didn’t even happen. I minimized it to the point that it was irrelevant to even think about. I am LAUREN WORTH POIROUX and I help people, I don’t get help. I have an extensive knowledge on domestic violence and sexual assault. I can give you the statistics, the codes, the dynamics, anything you need. I did (and still do!) crisis work and I assisted those who go through that. I am apart from it though. I have so much education on these topics, it was almost laughable to me that something like this could happen to me personally.

I found though, that this event never really went away. I found myself thinking about it, from time to time, and trying to console myself by saying that it wasn’t a big deal, I wasn’t raped. It happened, it sucked, get over it. It was a bad experience but not a violent one. There are people who experience so much more extreme or severe cases. Can I even think of this as an assault? (Spoiler alert: I decided that I didn’t).

That decision eventually spiraled my mental health OUT OF CONTROL. I clearly had unresolved feelings about this event, and I just ignored them.  No surprise to you, I am sure, that those feelings started manifesting themselves in my life in a chaotic and unhealthy way in a surprisingly many different ways. I was super, super depressed. I couldn’t seem to ever feel right, or feel good. If you have ever met me, you know that I am a very upbeat and happy person. For a while there though, I couldn’t find that shine.

I found myself feeling incredibly insecure about everything. I was insecure in my friendships, in my own abilities, in my intellect.  I spent a lot of time alone, but I also threw myself into every activity, event, and group that I could. I was wicked busy and always tired.

Things that bothered me or that I am sensitive about were actually eating me alive. I have been extremely sensitive about the fact that I have not seriously dated anyone since high school. I have been on plenty of dates and have met people, don’t mistake me,  but I have not been in a ‘relationship’ in quite some time. This makes me vaguely sad on a good day, but this destroyed me last year. I have never felt like such a disgusting, unworthy, awful creature than after my assault. I honestly believed during that time that I was a monster incapable of finding someone, that the only people I attract were the ones who violated me, not respected me. I had so many crushes, and so many guys would flirt with me, but they never seemed to come to anything, so I was just convinced that I was defective and broken.

So, I kept this up, this being really sad and self-deprecating and extremely overly busy for a while. For a good six months. I actually conquered my academic and extracurricular goals and expectations- I was unstoppable. Great grades, running different groups and events; I was going to just work hard and move past this because what happened to me is not who I am and therefore didn’t happen.

Surprise, I couldn’t keep this up. Things got very, very bad. In March I was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt. I was so upset, so sad, so lonely, and just overwhelmed that I think my brain just couldn’t take it anymore. I think my brain was screaming at me “WE ARE DEALING WITH THIS RIGHT NOW WHETHER YOU WANT TO OR NOT, DO SOMETHING!” It was from this point though, that I was forced to face these issues I had been ignoring, and accept that despite the fact that I believe what happened wasn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, it was still a big deal to me.

Every one has struggles and trauma in their life. Some may be huge and gruesome and obvious- the worst thing that could happen to anyone happens to people everywhere. For some people, their trauma and pain come from something that is the worst thing that could happen to them in their personal experience. What I mean to say here is that something that may not be considered extremely traumatizing when compared to the general trauma of the world can  extremely traumatizing to someone because that is the most traumatizing thing to ever happen to them personally.

I am a super blessed and a lucky lady. I have had very little trauma in my life. I have a super amazing huge family, awesome friends, and I have had many opportunities be given to me already within my life. For me, that inappropriate touching was extremely traumatizing. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and the weight of it really pressed upon me in a way I didn’t expect. I hear people’s horror stories for a living. I have heard a lot of gruesome things. That wasn’t so bad compared to other people’s experiences. But!!!!!!!!

It took me being hospitalized to realize it, but just because I am aware of the pain, the trauma, the victimization of someone else doesn’t mean my pain, my trauma, my hurt isn’t real or is ‘less than’. You can’t categorize trauma- it isn’t a contest. I had to deal with my own shit just like I advise other people to deal with theirs.

From this experience, I actually had a lot of positive character growth. I deal with issues, conflict, and emotions in a much more direct way. I know my emotional boundaries- I know now when it is time to ask for help before I hit rock bottom. I am way, way, WAY more honest with myself than ever before. I am much more secure in my friendships, and I am a lot less sensitive about relationships and being single than before, because I am not worried about being broken or defective, my self-worth and self-fulfillment is not tied to that now.

My life didn’t change though, because I have always been a kick-ass passionate lady who is extremely supportive of others. I just include myself now. I am strong and have always been strong, I am just more secure in my acknowledgment of my strength than before. So while it may sound like my world changed, it didn’t really. I just have the ability now to see and understand myself more clearly than ever before. I try to bring out the qualities that I am grateful I possess, and try to be more aware of the ones that are problematic.

So, it’s been a year. I have a dream job. I have the best dog in the world. And I am in the process of buying a house. That’s a lot of positives right there. Still single as the day is long, but that’s okay, I have all of this cool other stuff going on. It’ll happen when it happens. Do I still have bad days? Sure. I do not wake up feeling like Snow White every day. But I do feel like I am a lot stronger and more secure, and I feel pretty damn good about that.

I won’t be wearing denim tomorrow because I am “profesh” now, but I will be sporting a chambray dress, and that’s close enough I guess. I am worth something, you are worth something, every person is worthy of love and respect. Let’s remember that as we close out sexual assault awareness month.